MPs vote through cap on social care costs

March 31, 2022

MPs have rejected calls from peers to revaluate the cap on care costs, following a vote in favour of the policy last night in the House of Commons.

Despite peers calling on the Government to reconsider the reform plan, MPs voted 247 to 150, majority 97, on Wednesday night.

On the 7th March, a decisive vote in the House of Lords saw 198 members voting in favour of dropping the policy cap entirely. Despite increasing pressure from critics – it seems the plan is moving forwards.

In September the Government announced a cap on lifetime social care costs in England, which was planned to begin in October 2023 and set at a level of £86,000. When the possibility of a cap was first legislated for in the 2014 Care Act, total care costs incurred – including those covered by council funding for those with low assets or income – were to count towards the cap. However, in November 2021, the Government proposed to amend the Care Act so that only the amount someone spends themselves would count towards the cap. This amendment is now being considered by Parliament.

A joint Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Health Foundation report, funded by the Health Foundation, found that the proposed Government amendment would impact most strongly those older people with modest levels of wealth. Those with wealth, including their home, of around £75,000 to £150,000 would face the biggest loss of protection as a result of the amendment. The result is that someone with around £110,000 in assets could lose 78% of their total wealth even after the cap is in place, while someone with £500,000 could use up only 17%. The report showed that people living in less affluent areas, such as parts of the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the Midlands, would be most disadvantaged by the change to the cap on social care costs.

In response to House of Commons votes on the Health and Care Bill, Hugh Alderwick, Director of Policy at the Health Foundation, said, ‘MPs voted the wrong way yesterday on two crucial issues. Despite the government's pledge to ‘fix’ social care ‘once and for all’, there is clear evidence that their social care amendment to the Health and Care Bill would make planned reforms to introduce a ‘cap’ on care costs far less fair and generous than originally expected. People with lower levels of wealth would be hit hardest – and some will still face crippling care costs.

‘While the vote is disappointing, if the Lords continue to push for change, there is still an opportunity for government to rethink the proposals to make them fairer and more generous. The Health and Care Bill also provides a major opportunity for the government to create a better system for workforce planning. Staffing issues in the NHS and social care are chronic. But by voting down the workforce planning amendment, MPs have missed an important chance to put in place a more efficient way of planning the health workforce of the future.

‘We now hope that the House of Lords encourages the government to think again on these issues, and that Government remains open to compromise before the Bill passed into law.’

Visit the Health Foundation website to read the report in full.

In other news, The National Audit Office (NAO) has published insights today relating to the management of PPE contracts in health and social care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 


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